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Posted - 06/16/2006 : 4:04:56 PM
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SACRAMENTO - When U.S. Army soldier Noah Bailey, clutching a cane, walked on prosthetic legs into the baggage claim area at the Sacramento Airport to greet a crowd of more than 50 well-wishers, total strangers stopped to applaud the young soldier.

To the sound of a military bagpiper playing, Bailey's parents, sister, cousins, high school friends and new girlfriend took turns bear-hugging the stunned 21-year-old.

Everyone on hand - including people waiting for their luggage - cheered and whistled as Bailey grinned wide and took it all in, his eyes filling with tears.





Friends and family welcome Noah Bailey home Thursday evening at Sacramento International Airport in Sacramento.
The Union photo/John Hart



"I wasn't expecting this," Bailey said. "I just want to thank everyone."

A traveling girls' soccer team screamed praise, while a California National Guard lieutenant, on his way home to see his wife and children, put down his bags and applauded.

Bailey said he didn't want to arrive in a wheelchair, so he waited to take his 30-day convalescent leave until he could use a cane.

"I wanted to walk," Bailey said.





The Union photo/John Hart Noah Bailey and his girlfriend Krystal Burt take a minute Thursday to catch their breath after a crowd of more than 50 well-wishers welcomed Bailey home in Sacramento.



Members of Friends of Nevada County military waved American Flags and Bailey's high school buddies hooted and hollered Bailey's nickname, "C-Rock" while Bailey fielded hugs and answered questions from the media.

"I don't know what to say," he said a few times, overwhelmed and wiping sweat from his forehead.

Bailey spent the last six months recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. from injuries he received when a roadside bomb exploded near his patrolling Humvee in Afghanistan.




Doctors immediately amputated his right leg below the knee, and nearly two weeks later, Bailey opted to have his mangled left leg amputated below the knee as well. Doctors had wanted to fuse his left ankle, and Bailey knew he could be more active if he had a prosthetic instead.

"He's worked so hard," said high school friend Grant Kohler, 21, before Bailey arrived Thursday. "I'm so thankful for his sacrifice. It's going to be great to have him home."

Bailey said he could "barely sleep" on the plane ride out of sheer excitement.

Showing off his prosthetics, Bailey stood on one foot. He said he can't run yet, but he plans to.

He said pole vaulting - one of his favorite sports in high school - may be in his future as well.

His girlfriend Krystal Burt, 19, and his friends say they want to take Bailey camping while he's home.

He has to return to Maryland July 14 and he hopes to be discharged from the Army sometime before next Christmas, when he plans to return to live in Grass Valley.

Bailey's sister, Melissa, was continuously wiping tears from her eyes while she watched her brother soak in the praise.

"This is the first time I've seen him walk," she said. "He's a hero."

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I did not know this lad personnaly, but met him when he first came back wounded from Afghanistan. He had a very positive attitude even tho using 2 crutches he was getting around fairly well. I and other VETS have extended an open seat in our boats, and hunting areas whenever he wants to go.


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WE pray daily for our service men and women. The dumcraps say they support our troops, but won't support their missions. If you don't support their missions, you are NOT supporting our troops. POWDERMAN. :( :( :( :( :( :( :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:
 

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You know I watched Cher on tv over the helmet upgrades in Congress and in an interview.. I was so impressed with her statement that not all Hollywood has the same thoughts on the war.. and that she has been there and seeing what we are doing first hand sure makes a difference than what the media reports all the time..
 

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Hello Riflemen-I just chanced in here and read this wonderful post. I got to tell you I got chills reading that soldiers reception and wished I could have been there. I admire that man so much and wish him a wonderful life. Where do they hid this news on TV? Our armed forces are probably our greatest nation treasure and they need to be highlighted for eveyone to be proud of. Life is good, BestLever
 

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What a fine young man! They don't make them any better than that anywheres! Anyone that doesn't stand when that young man passes, doesn't know what brave and humble is!
 

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Ruger480 said:
Anyone that doesn't stand when that young man passes, doesn't know what brave and humble is!
And subjected to a thorough a$$kicking.......
 
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